Following Derek Chauvin being convicted of the murder of George Floyd earlier this week, my colleague, Rabbi Michael Bernstein, reminded me of this relevant teaching in the Talmud:  
“Rabbi Shimon the son of Lakish pitted two verses against each other ‘With justice shall you judge your neighbor.’ (Leviticus 19:15) and ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue.’ (Deuteronomy 16:20)” (Sanhedrin 32b)
Rabbi Shimon struggled because he felt that these two biblical verses teach us to do very different things. The first verse expects us to establish a judicial process that fairly resolves issues within our communities. The second verse expects us to engage in the ongoing pursuit of justice. So, if we follow the first verse and establish a fair judicial process, why do we need to continuously engage in this pursuit?
Rabbi Shimon’s struggle led him to the answer that is so important for us to understand today: “with justice shall you judge your neighbor” applies to a court that is not broken and is working well; “justice, justice you shall pursue” applies to a court that needs desperate repair. At the same time, even within a broken court, we must commit ourselves to ensure that justice is what is used to judge our neighbor. Additionally, within a court that works, we must ensure that justice is used not to resolve just an individual case, but to transform our broken world.
The verdict that was handed down this week reminds us that a US courtroom can be a place of justice. This should lift our spirits. Rabbi Shimon reminds us, it should also inspire us to do our part to ensure that this justice permeates every aspect of our world. Whether it be in our own country where we know that when it comes to race, our judicial system is broken, in places like France where a court refused to try the murderer of a Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, on the grounds that he had smoked marijuana before the crime, or in other parts of the world where justice is lacking, we are sadly reminded that there is much work to be done to pursue justice.

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